By Camille Aubin
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Hannah de Soto and Jay Balabas, local valley residents, took possession of the Circle Market + Cafe on March 29.

“We kind of had visions of starting a business that had a cafe and a small market section, and then Circle became available when it was exactly the kind of the thing we were going for. It’s just a really good fit,” said Balabas. “My sister and I, a few years ago, thought about opening a zero-waste store in Canmore, which didn’t end up happening, but it’s funny. We wanted the cafe. We wanted the market. We like the zero waste and we ended up getting everything,” added de Soto.

Like many residents, their growing love for the valley began with regular weekend visits. “We’ve been coming to the valley for 20 plus years, always spent lots of time out here and finally decided we didn’t want to go home at the end of the weekend anymore. We made the move here full-time,” explained Balabas. 

Before they ended up in Invermere, they lived in Canmore. De Soto worked for Community Support Service there and left her job when they decided to move here. Her parents also own an organic store and de Soto worked for at that store for a long time. “It was a very natural fit in a lot of ways,” she added.

Balabas owned another store beforehand. “I had owned a bike shop in Canmore called the Bicycle Cafe, and then we also had a cafe in there. I’ve always been really passionate about coffee. I’m pretty excited to reintroduce the coffee side of Circle back and get a little bit of the cafe vibe going again.” 

Their focus right now is to re-open the cafe side of the store with “really good high-quality coffee”. As time progress, the new owners will slowly expand their food selection and see where that side of the business takes them. A large patio facing the sun at Circle will soon offer a nice place to sit with a fresh cup of coffee. An indoor sitting section will arrive later in the fall or winter, when the couple hope it will be safe to do so. “There’s been a really keen interest in the cafe side of things coming back, so (we’re) really excited to have a nice place with this awesome patio,” expressed Balabas. “We are hoping to have coffee ready by May 1. The patio is open. We don’t have coffee, but we do have a fridge full of goodies,” added de Soto. 

Circle will soon see its food selection expand with a “heavy emphasis on locally made products whenever possible”. “It is a small boutique market where you can come and find everything you would need to make dinner that night,” explained Balabas. “We want to have everything here. Small selection, obviously with the size of the store, but a lot more than we currently have,” said de Soto. The new owners are also currently connecting with local vendors to offer locally made food products.

“When ordering, we try to keep everything organic. Most of the suppliers we work with supply mostly organic goods,” said de Soto.

Circle offers a wide variety of zero waste options for reducing trash in your daily life routine. You can find a wide assortment of beauty products such as shampoo bars, household cleaning products such as laundry soap refills or cleaners, and bulk foods like seeds and peas. 

The average person uses 10 plastic shampoo and conditioner bottles each year. It’s estimated that less than 11 per cent of plastic actually gets recycled in Canada. That